Contraband (2012)

mp’s rating: 3/5

An average plot movie packaged in moderately-good action.

Having watched almost all the movies in the cinema, my parents and I were back again in front of the booth and asking ourselves of what movie to be watched. Contraband was not on our list, but since we have watched the six others, we relented and watched the movie.

It was ok.

In my opinions, the plot was a cliche, and we all know how the story would unravel. The movie itself is about an ex-criminal who loves his family – his wife and two children, but after his wife’s brother gets into trouble by messing around with a cocaine dealer, he needs to get back into the job and save his brother-in-law.

In the middle of the smuggling, something goes terribly wrong (something always, doesn’t it?), and the plot itself has a little twist that if you are a movie maniac, you’ll find out soon enough without needing to watch the next scene.

However, the action is good, and I guess it’s a plus point.

It’s definitely worth viewing, but not the kind of movie that you’ll watch twice. At least, I won’t.

Social Media Explained

Life updated: it’s a beautiful day

I woke up this morning at 9.30am, and after a seven-hour sleep, I feel refreshed. I know that today is going to be beautiful, and it is indeed.

First of all, I have new ideas about how to approach my story assignment, and my interviewee has already said yes, so I just need to schedule a time with him and write the story. Phew, the biggest fear in my life (right now) is ‘kinda’ solved. (I think I have a pride issue as well, I really, really, really want to prove to my professional lecturer – which is a top journalist here in Australia, that I can ace my story. And I will.)

I submitted an article to Upstart Magazine last week, and to my utter disbelief they actually accepted it and the piece went up this morning. Read more on Gen (wh)Y: saving the lost generation.

I worked on another story today (it’s for Meld), went for a walk to grab a good cup of coffee, and I felt extremely happy.

I watched No Reservation with my sister today, and we both agreed that the guy is so charming: he can cook fancy food, he is loyal, he does whatever the girl says, and he is great with kids. Charming. Gorgeous. Okay, I should quit daydreaming.

And now, I am about to do some work, assignment, assignment assignment!

Today’s update will be short, but please do enjoy this image, I do find it quite interesting (hint: this is the theme of the article that I was writing about).

Social Media Explained

Happy Thursday everyone, enjoy the storm! (For the ones who are based in Melbourne, we literally are in the middle of a storm).

Get enough sleep, or else... (see the dark circles under my eyes...) you'll start become an owl. not. good.

Quarter life crisis

I know I will have so many complains (wait, no, just a lot of bored readers who will prematurely hit the ‘x’ button for this blog) because yes, I will be ranting about how difficult life is, again, when life doesn’t turn out like the way we have planned. Oh no, wait, I haven’t planned anything.

It’s nearly midnight and I’m sipping my second cold cup of tea (it’s been sitting on my desk for too long), talking to random people, asking them if whether I’m taking the right course, and turning my pen like crazy (which this time fails to calm me down).

I better brew some hot water again, be right back.

Okay, so where were I? The crisis.

I guess after two nights of watching Twilight 1 & 2 and having fun criticising every cheesy bit of the movies with my sister (apologies for Twilight fans out there but here are some examples: Gosh, Edward is so white! Wait, whoa, Bella kisses Jacob? Why is Edward quoting Shakespheare? How can they graduate? They never study! Ehm, the movie is too long, let’s fast-forward it), I still haven’t been able to soothe my distorted mental health.

I have consoled myself (again) for the fact that I might not be good enough for Honours. Yes, I’m not. I know I have said this before, but yes, I might not be. With Honours thrown out of the window (except if some miracles happen and magically I am accepted), I am left with two options: do Master’s, or get a job.

I haven’t been eager to study Master’s straight after my Bachelor’s degree, so IF I do not hear any great calling that I should indeed become a journalist and pursue a degree there, I should have chosen the latter.

A job.

With everyone’s talking about how hard the job market is out there, I’m not convinced that I can actually get a job.

Plus, most of my friends who graduated last year and early this year are still unsuccessful to get an interview.

And what kind of job? Should I try my luck with applying for grad position as with a Psychology major? Should I try to go to magazines and try to get hired? What magazines or newspapers would love to hire me anyway?

I have done a quick market research: most print magazines are not of my interest. Let me rephrase, I can’t name any print magazine that captures my interest. Well yes, I like reading National Geographic, but it’s based in America. I have self-confessed myself as a hater of fashion (and fyi, there are lots and lots and lots of fashion magazines out there, even the non-fashion magazines have some fashion in them). I don’t like sports, photography, nor technology. I hate cars (I only love sitting on the front seat with someone driving on my right – yes, Australians drive on the right), and I can’t cook.

I hate politics. I hate every bit of it. That should make me cross every newspaper on the list, so what do we have left?

Well, my blog, basically. If I can earn from my blog, that would be lovely.

Okay, quit the daydreaming.

I’m not usually a pessimist, but I have not been an optimist either. I still have one year of uni (counting down 21 weeks, actually, excluding the holiday), and I’m already worried of next year instead of living this year because what I’m doing this year will determine how I’ll live my life next year.

Well well, anyone fancies a cup of coffee at this hour?

There’s no doubt that I love writing, I really do. But a little birdie told me (okay, it was an article in Harvard Business News, titled Don’t Do What You Love) that sometimes you don’t need to do what you love, because maybe you’re not good at it. Or maybe you are better at something else. Maybe it’s just a hobby, and it’s not going to turn miraculously into a money making machine (hey, you need to be able to provide for yourself, right?).

Gee, do I really have a quarter life crisis? I know I’m a highly moody person, and by tomorrow I might forget what I write today and sing My Favourite Things song (you know, the soundtrack from The Sound of Music).

Good night, self-pity, I’ll say hi to self-confidence tomorrow (I really hope she’ll come, but if she’s not coming then I need to invite her, it’s a matter of urgency).

Night people, and if you are based in Melbourne, turn off your laptop and get your beauty sleep, it’s nearly 1am.

Get enough sleep, or else... (see those eyebags...) you'll start become an owl. not. good.


tell me what self-respect is

“Mom, I’m not going to get pregnant. I’m not going to do drugs. I just want to hang out with my friends, get some drinks, and have some fun.”

The first time I saw those words on a Facebook friend’s update status, I paused. And those words ring in my ears ever since.

They may not be the exact words, for it’s been years since she posted her status. I’m not close with her, in fact, we barely know each others’ names. She is a friend of a friend, and she is, from what I see on Facebook, the soul of the party.

Chatting with a male friend whose life operates both day and night, I find myself uttering the question of what self-respect is.

Of course, one’s values differ from another, and what’s wrong in having nights of fun? Either way, I know, it’s not my place to judge.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of alcohol. In fact, I drink alcohol for pleasure. A glass of wine or two at a celebration, a small glass of Baileys with ice at some nights, or my favourite, a glass of port.

I have never been drunk or tipsy, and I’m not intending to. I enjoy a company of a drink on my sleepless nights, and I enjoy a glass of ice wine during Chinese New Year, Christmas dinner, or other celebrations. Alcohol is a good ice-breaker, I’d say.

I’m not an against-going-to-a-bar person. In fact, chatting with an old friend with drinks would be lovely.

But I’m definitely against the hard-rock music that screams at your ears, and the fun that they claim to have; from drinking shots, going tipsy, smoking cigarettes, smoking shisha, and occasionally, some one-night-stands.

And don’t get me wrong a second time. I have nothing against clubbing, but I have something against those who don’t know where to draw the line of having enough. Not all people go there to get drunk and God knows what else, I believe. Sadly, some people do.

I just can’t believe that among those people, some are my friends.

I heard that one guy just takes one subject per semester and I have no idea what he’s doing in his very free time. Another has been dealing with drugs. Another has proclaimed himself to be ‘open’. One girl got anorexic. Many become alcoholic – drinking, clubbing, and smoking like life’s not fragile.

Two years out of high school, and this is the news that I heard.

If I could rewind the time and look at our innocent faces a couple of years back, I would, so that my impressions of my friends would be forever pure.

So that I would not be asking what on earth has happened, or why did it happen.

I wonder if their parents are questioning the same thing.

But again, it’s not my place to judge.

I just hope they all know what they are doing.


Feedback, you’re not my cup of tea either

As a journalist, I’m too used to say, “Feel free to give any comment,” or, “Any feedback is much appreciated!”

Sometimes I really do mean it, sometimes it is just a courtesy. You know, you’re just a rookie, a new kid on the block, why don’t just look nice and put that I-am-eager-to-learn-and-to-become-better attitude up front?

But not everyone likes feedback.

I, for one, hates it.

Of course I love positive feedback. It boosts my ego and my confidence for someone to actually say, “Hey, your writing’s improved, well done, Marcella!” and you feel that you are actually on the right track. Like, what’s the point of keep on learning something if you’re not getting better at it? It’s as simple as that.

But the negative feedback, oh, it’s the worse.

You know, especially when you have put so much effort and energy and you feel like you’ve done a decent job, it sucks.

I know that feedback should be both positive and negative, feedback is there for you to improve, to become better, better, and yet better. But gee, does anyone ever tell you that the process is painful? It may shatter you, it may shatter your dreams, it may make you lose your confidence in what you think you’re good at, and simply put, it’s like someone says to your face, “Wake up girl, you don’t have any talent in this area.”

Of course, the feedback giver doesn’t really want to say that you don’t have any talent (maybe she does), but perhaps she just wants to go that extra step to actually tell you that you’re going the wrong way. Red alert, you need to write better!

So what actually happened?

I submitted a 500 news story draft toward my tutor, who happens to be my lecturer as well, and she gave me the nicest feedback ever.

“I am asking why this will interest me, Marcella.”

“Where is the point of difference?”

Ask yourself why the reader would want to read on.”

I would really like to answer because I wrote it, duh, but it wouldn’t sell either.

So now I know that I’ve written a crappy piece, and I have one week to turn that negative impression of hers to be a positive one. Do I take this challenge? Hell yeah I do, because seriously, do you think I have any other option?

But she also said this, “A writer never apologises for what she’s writing. She just gets better.”

I’m not sure if I’m a ‘woman enough’ to actually take that statement to heart.

And suddenly my iPod plays the soundtrack of Men of Honour, the song Win by Brian McKnight.

So does it mean that I shouldn’t give up?

Well, I can’t really give up now, can I? (After all the rejection letters, the modified stories, the tutor-hates-your-article incident, the hours of editing, editing, and yet more editing, the days spent on reading news, studying Twitter, and textbooks…)

Feedback is not my cup of tea, but maybe I can start with making it my cup of coffee (because literally, I drink green tea everyday, and drink coffee once a week).

And maybe one day, I can see feedback not as a red card to kick me out of the game, but as a ladder to help me climb up to where I’m supposed to be.

Tuesday’s Tale: Mrs. Chong

Remember your teachers?

Remember not the lessons they have taught in school, but the lessons in life that make you who you are now?

Perhaps, you remember one name.

Or maybe two.

Or three.

Or maybe none.

Coming to uni, no one really cares about you anymore. The tutors don’t see you everyday, five days a week, for the rest of the year to get to know you. No, they teach you one hour every week and demand you to be able to ace in the assignments. So do the lecturers.

But back in high school, you see the same teachers everyday. You get to know them. You get to listen to their stories. You get to break the rules, and the teachers who care will warn you.

And if you still remember someone, that means he or she has done a great deal of justice towards your education, and your life.

holding hand

Raising awareness, you’re not my cup of tea

In an interview that I recently did, Join Silica Liong, a Fine Arts Indonesian student here in Melbourne said:

“The media is where you hear and see information, and what you hear and see, you consume. You don’t trust everything that you see, but you actually pick the ones that you think it’s true.”

And I think it’s very true.

(To read more about the article that I made, see Indonesian Fine Arts student Join Silica Liong connects the dots)

So when Steve Jobs died and million others frantically shared his story on Facebook, Twitter, newspaper, and every other media, I shut down.

When Whitney Houston died and the TV gave a tribute towards her story on and on and on and on, I shut down.

When everyone is talking about how Michael Jackson died and his drug addiction and the complicated case with his doctor, I shut down.

And when everyone is talking about Kony and how he is seen as the child villain in Africa, I, too, shut down.

As a journalist, I need to know what’s going on, but the psychology part within me keeps on denying those ‘top’ issues that everyone’s talking about. I don’t want to know, and I don’t really care. When too many people start looking at one direction, I just want to keep my head on the other.

The first time a friend shared about Kony 2012 video in Facebook, I took interest, and played the video. After two minutes, I got bored (literally), and because I was in the car, browsing through my iPhone instead of my MacBook, I thought that I’d see the video later.

That night, from three shares in Facebook, the video has had thirty plus shares and counting, and I shut down.

Some friends even inserted some inappropriate comments, in my own opinion, regarding this matter. Defamation (or instant publicity, depending on how you see it) of Joseph Kony goes even more viral.

Everything is about Kony, the villain that Michelle Griffin in The Age refers as the Voldemort, from we shall stop Kony, we shall increase funds and charities to be able to stop Kony, to we shall increase this important issue to everyone!

Call me a skeptic, or a cynic, but when someone nudges something about humanity, we often just “Oh, this issue is horrible,” click share, give a few comments, and after a week full of Kony bombardments, everyone resumes to their own life.

Out of those 70 million YouTube viewers, I bet only a few who really do something about the issue.

So we now know about the horror in Uganda. We know about how children are seen as invisible and how they are unable to live a decent life due to their community. But we have always known about this, don’t we? So what next?

I watched the movie “Hotel Rwanda” a couple of years ago, well, isn’t the message similar?

Why suddenly the issue of Kony is a big deal, and why now?

I keep asking the question, why now?

This issue has been there forever, if not for quite a long time already, but why suddenly everyone’s talking about it?

And why Kony?

Whether you believe it or not, Kony might or might not exist. He might be the real person who slaughter children, or he might be a made up figure just for the purpose of having someone to blame for. I don’t really know what the facts are, and I am not really keen to find out, but there’s one thing I’m concerned about.

When people start to care about the world, and the world only, what about the people, the children around you? You might share the video on your Twitter, your Facebook, you might email some friends and say, “STOP KONY!” like some of my friends do. But I wonder behind those innocent words, do they really care about stopping Kony, or do they just think, “It’s just a click, it’s no biggie,” and forget about it afterwards?

Sometimes I feel sad. I feel sad for we are used to care about people who we never know about, and start neglecting those who actually living in our own community.

Remember Mother Theresa? She doesn’t need to increase awareness of the children in poverty so that she can have some help in doing what she does. She just does the most essential thing: she helps them. So why suddenly life becomes complicated and the ‘raising awareness’ stage is included, instead of just dealing straight with the problem itself?

If one man can make a difference, why suddenly everyone needs 70 million others to do so?

You want your children to be able to live in a better world. We grow up with this simple idea that the world is ugly, full of bad people who want war, and we always believe that if we fix it now, our children can live a life full of world peace. But fixing the world, for me, is not merely about fixing it. It’s also about loving it for who it is, no matter how broken it is, because then in your eyes, the world will become perfect.

One day I will forget who Kony is and who the director of the movie is, but I will not forget about the important people who have walked pass my life, and that’s where I want to invest my time and energy.

10 years from now, the organisation might not say thank you for your effort in supporting to stop Kony (I’m not saying that you can’t do this, it’s entirely up to you), but your special friends and families might do, and they will remember you for life for the silly little things you used to do with them.

Life is not about one impacting million others. Sometimes life means impacting one person’s life dearly, and just let him to pay it forward.

And you know, stopping Kony might be teaching your younger brother about that homework that he’s been stressing around, or tutoring refugees for free in a local library around your neighbourhood.

Now, it feels like home

Published on Farrago (University of Melbourne Magazine) on Tuesday, March 6 2012.

A new international student muttered this question to the girl in the mirror one day, “When will it start feeling like home?”

I could see it in her eyes – fear of the new life, but there was a spark of excitement as well. She was afraid that she would never make friends – that she would never get through the feeling of homesickness.

Yet two years later she muttered another question, “When did it start feeling like home?” And she smiled.

That first day was scary; that first attempt to talk to someone was nerve-wracking. What could be more challenging than speaking broken English and living a thousand miles from home. I thought to myself.

Yet I survived, and I not only survived, I have lived a beautiful life.

…

Saturday’s story: Father’s gift

Father’s Gift
by unknown

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car.

Finally, on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, “With all your money you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.

Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things. When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matt 7:11,

“And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly father which is in heaven, give to those who ask Him?”

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words…PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?


Jack and Jill (2011)

mp’s rating: 2/5

It’s not that I don’t like Adam Sandlers, it’s just that the movie is too weird, even for a 19-year-old whose life is based on movies.

Okay, that’s a bit of exaggeration, but I got to say, the movie is weird.

On a side-glance, it looked like a usual chick flick, but I just can’t believe that Al Pacino and Johnny Depp are both starring in it (as the ‘real’ Al Pacino and Johnny Depp). Can you believe that the one starring The Godfather is actually starring a chick flick?

Well, Jack and Jill were twins. But somehow, Jack was the Mr. Popular, where Jill was the Miss Loser. Jack had it all – good job and great family. While Jill had nothing – she struggled hard to be herself, and to be accepted, although it meant for her to act in annoyingly innocent ways.

One holiday, after their mother passed away, Jill went to visit her brother, and she found rejection. It was no secret that Jack didn’t like his own twin sister, he thought that Jill was immature, and that she was ridiculously obnoxious that tried to ruin his life. On the opposite, Jill was longing for that feeling of ‘family’ that she once shared with Jack. And you could guess how the story evolved from there.

The plot was not really developed, and the humour was a bit cheesy. It was a good laugh, but for me, it stopped there. Definitely not the best of Adam Sandler’s movies.

From left: Careers in Psych booklet, Honours in Psych book, News as it happens by Stephen Lamble book, The Associated Press Stylebook, Master of Journalism brochure

Life updated: studies, interns, jobs, resumes, brochures, and…

A friend of mine (a colleague in Meld Magazine) said that the middle degree crisis has gone, now we are faced with two-third degree crisis. We have two more semesters to go.

Today, I vacuumed my apartment, ironed the clothes that have been hanging there for a week, and forged a love-hate relationship with my future. I devoured the Honours in Psychology manual, the Master of Journalism brochure, and the Careers in Psychology booklet.

Plus, I have made that extra effort to buy my AUD$80 journalism textbook: News as it happens by Stephen Lamble, which content is very good, if only it was AUD$80 cheaper, and I even bought a secondhand journalist’s bible: the AUD$12 Associated Press Stylebook. Will it help my writing? Who knows.

From left: Careers in Psych booklet, Honours in Psych book, News as it happens by Stephen Lamble book, The Associated Press Stylebook, Master of Journalism brochure

I found out that pre-order for iPad 3 has been opened (and yes, I will consult my parents at once to let me have it for my 20th birthday present next month), and I was really excited (which is very funny because I never was, am, or will be a gadget addict. However, iPad is so much easier to bring rather than laptop, and if you like to read or write, iPad is a really handy resource for a journalist!)

I tidied up my resume and get the files ready for applying to graduate positions (yes, I did think of going straight to work after uni), and I tried my best to write a cover letter that would not sound too cheesy.

I have consoled myself for the fact that I might not be accepted into Honours in Psychology (they want an 80 average student, I’m on borderline 75 average), or Honours in MediaCom (research in media sounds complicated, plus they want a 75 average for media subjects, I’m pretty sure my marks are below that).

Master of Journalism? Seriously?

Here’s what my someone special told me yesterday, “I know you like psychology, but you rarely talk about it. When you are telling me how your day is, you always tell me the stories of finishing this story, submitting that article, a new deadline, new intern opportunities, and blah. Don’t you think it’s a little transparent?

“If you really like psychology, you can write about its theories and applications and blah, but so far you have only made two writings about psychology.”


And I just got a call this afternoon, and I will start my internship at Royal Children’s Hospital next week!

I really, really, really want to bake brownies now, but I’m too lazy to do the dishes. Maybe tomorrow?

I am probably having a quarter-life crisis.


a decent life

I know that not everyone can have a great life, but I never know that not everyone can have a decent life.

Not everyone can live in a house, have a faithful husband, give birth to a healthy baby, be abuse-free or accident-free.

Not everyone has the luxury to even be loved rightly by her partner, and not everyone has a committed husband.

Not everyone has the greatest supportive parents, and certainly, not everyone can afford to live like human beings.

Not everyone.

Not everyone can live a normal life.

What’s normal, you may ask? You know, the usual life advertisement that we always see – we grow up, study hard, pursue our passion, get a decent job, fall in love, marry the one we love, go to Europe for honeymoon, buy a house, have kids, grow old together, and greet death like an old friend.

It’s a pretty simple concept, only it’s not that simple to achieve it – life throws a different deck of cards to each player.

How you play the cards, is entirely your choice.

Last week I have been bombarded with such a dark side of life – from the movies that I watched, articles that I read, books that I read, to people that talked to. Many married couples are unfaithful and having affairs – I never know that. Many people live in a very sad state after being abused by their stepfathers – I also never know that.

But what’s striking is this: many people complain that life is unfair, but they made the wrong choices in the first place.

It may be not entirely your fault why you are pregnant. But complaining for one abortion to another, while having a very active sex life is not ethical – well, for your babies it’s not.

It may not be your fault that your partner’s cheating, but you have chosen to be with him in the first place. You know the risk – so instead of cursing but staying with him, now you either leave him or forgive him. Sometimes, saying “I chose to stay with him for all the things he’s done right; not the one thing he’s done wrong”, or “I’m done with you,” is needed.

And sometimes, you know the right thing to do, but you just don’t want to do it.

I sat down to watch The Duchess (2008) last week. Despite being a quite highly rated movie, every part of my bones hate it. I am so grateful that I didn’t watch this movie at the big screen. I think I would curse it. Hard.

It is not about the cinematography, nor the actresses, or the actors. In fact all of these are so beautifully done that I get the message so bloody well. The story literally makes me sick.

And the fact that it is a true story makes it even worse.

How could a woman live with a man who are having affairs under her nose, and just let her husband to actually do it?

How could a woman let her best friend to stay in the same house as her, knowing that her husband is sleeping with her?

How could a woman, who loves somebody else, whose husband shows less affection to her compared to his dogs, literally chooses this to happen?

Such a life for dignity, and pride.

Such a life to please the society.

Such a life.

And fast-forward to the real confessions of sins of people.

A single mother complaining for being too tired to take care of her children, yet keeps on sleeping with random men.

A wife, complaining for her husband to be kissing another girl, yet having an affair herself.

A woman, complaining that her boyfriend sucks, and that she still has some fantasy with her ex(?!)

A mother, who cheated on her husband and married a new man, complaining that her abandoned children hate her.

Complaining about the cards they are dealt – that I understand. Complaining about what happened because of the wrongs they do with those cards – that I do not.

A decent life, doesn’t necessarily mean having flawless criminal records, being a billionaire, or being awarded with Nobel Prizes. Sometimes, a decent life means being brave enough to acknowledge your wrongs, to do what’s right, and to make amendments.

Sometimes, a decent life means making the right choices again.

Tuesday’s Tale: Amazing Way to Proposing to a Girl | Asian Style

9gag lovers, you will love this. Girls in general, you’ll want a guy like this. Boys in general, be creative!

It’s always that defining moment in someone’s life, when he went on his knees asking that one simple question. And when she said yes, life is beautiful.

Most girls will be dreaming about this occasion her whole life, maybe more than her future wedding. Most girls will like to know who are they going to marry, and how he’s going to ash the question. Is it just a simple dinner somewhere when suddenly he popped the question? Or will it be grand, with out-of-the-box creativity that blows your mind away? Will it be a surprise? Or will you know about it beforehand?

You know, seeing those happy faces makes me smile widely here, ’cause love exists, and one day you will find your own man, marry your Mr. Right, and have a chance to brag about your engagement.

That look when she has tears in her eyes, that look when she was shocked, but smiling at the same time, unable to conceal her happiness, that look, is just priceless. I would love to know how he will propose me, but I can only tell you in five years time, considering I’m not yet 20.

In the mean time, I’ll be happy watching the videos of other people who get engaged, or hearing the stories of how he popped the question.


No pain no gain? The importance of being beautiful

Published on Friday, 2 March 2011 on Meld Magazine.

WHAT makes you feel beautiful? Is it makeup, clothes, shoes? Or are you a believer that beauty comes from the inside out? Meld columnist Marcella Purnama hangs up her heels after a prolonged battle between love and loathing.

Photo: Jesse Therrien

Photo: Jesse Therrien

Here’s my self-confession: I’m not a fashionista, and I doubt I’ll ever be. I’m not a beauty/make-up geek, and I’m oblivious to the latest trends and big brands.

I’m definitely not a high heels girl.

Not that I don’t want to be.

During those Sweet Seventeen parties, I used to borrow my older sister’s cocktail dress, and my mom’s lowest high heels. I detested wearing them at first, but later my feminine side finally kicked in – and I grew to appreciate the gorgeous dresses, beautiful high heels, and curled hairs.

I tried on make-up for the first time when I was 18 – I was signed up for a make-up lesson, where I learnt about applying eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, concealer, foundation, eyebrow pencil, and blush-on correctly.

I reserved the make-up for holidays (usually Sundays when I didn’t wake up late) and mostly for special occasions. But with high heels, it was a love-hate relationship.

I loved high heels because it made me look pretty, gorgeous, and a whole lot taller. It was a confidence booster, and sometimes it was the one thing that attracted the opposite sex. But I hated it, because after an hour or so, my feet would invariably be covered in blisters, and plead me to release them from the torture.

I vowed each night after a party not to wear high heels ever again. But by the next party I would find myself trying on a beautiful dress, and thinking to myself, “Oh boy, it would go lovely with a pair of new high heels.” And the cycle went on.

The diagnosis for my love-hate relationship with high heels finally came thanks to my sister who is is a doctor.

I have hallux valgus.

Not a severe one, of course, but it is a condition whereby your big toe (called the hallux) starts to deviate inward in the direction of the baby toe. So instead of growing straight, your toe bends. Scary, isn’t it? And it will bring even more pain if I’m wearing high heels.

The last time I wore high heels (the 3cm ones) was during my sister’s graduation a couple of months ago. I literally couldn’t walk after one hour. The pain was unbearable, and yes, I vowed to never wear high heels, again, except for some grave circumstances (marriage?).

After some psychological reasoning with my feminine side, I have finally decided that a pair of gorgeous flats would do just fine. Sure, I’ll look like a dwarf among those pretty, long-legged girls with high heels. Not to mention how it may look slightly weird with a cocktail dress.

But at least my feet won’t hurt, and it will make me happier than just my supposed-to-be-better-looking outer appearance.

I will be able to walk for hours, run if the occasion demands. And even though people (hopefully) might (not) notice something odd at the party (yet I can’t really escape the reality when a group photo is taken), who cares?

An old friend once asked me once on why I didn’t wear high heels.

“They would look good on you,” he said.

And I’m glad I could say, “I love my feet too much to do so.”

The same goes for fashion, corsets, the new Korean wave haircut, dieting, and over-gyming activities.

I’ll eat desserts whenever I feel like it, have instant noodles for supper even though I just ate dinner two hours ago, and finish that last bit of cake when no one wants to.

I’ll apply make-up when I feel like it, dress nicely when I want to (or if the occasion rightly demands), and wear sandals on every other occasion.

I’m healthy, I love my body, and I’m happy. If beauty is painful, I’d rather be me and pain-free.

how to train your dragon live 9

How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular Premiere Review, Melbourne

ALL cheered when Toothless the Night Fury left the stage. Yet it was not one of the grand closing applause we used to hear after a show is finished. It was a cheer in a hope to bring the dragons back to life after the third technical difficulty happened during the show.

After the opening night cancellation of the How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular World Premiere on Friday, 2nd of March (read more here), the Saturday’s opening show was greeted with much enthusiasm from both the audience and the crew.

Not less than 7,000 audience have been fighting each other to find a decent parking spot near the Hisense arena, and most were soaked wet due to the rain.

Although the 3pm show was running late, the excitement of seeing life, flying fire-breathing dragon came as soon as it started.

The first one-and-a-half-hour of the show was a total success – the audience was amazed and pleased, and everything was going well.

At 4.30pm, adults and children rushed outside to grab some food and drinks.

However, the 20-minute recess soon became a 60-minute one, and the adults started to feel that something has gone wrong.

After two-and-a-half-year of preparation and hardwork for the show, the casts were clearly disappointed as they struggled to make the story reached its climax. The show resumed at approximately 5.30pm, but in the next 30 minutes, it was halted twice due to technical difficulties, and some families started to head their way home.

As more than half of the audience were restless children aged below ten, parents were now struggling to entertain them. Other adults with no children began to take out their smartphones and do their business. A few were constantly checking their watches.

After three-and-a-half-hour of battle to make the dragons come to life, the supposedly two-hour show has finally come to an end at 6.30pm, with the climax and ending squeezed into an 8-minute fast-forwarded scene.

At this time, nearly half of the audience was gone.

“I sympathise with the director and the team because there are going to be lots of complains. They will be very stressed,” said an audience Jessica Purnama who attended the show with her boyfriend.

Despite the technical glitch, Jessica’s boyfriend Pohan Lukito said that he has seen about 80% of the show, and he was happy.

“The show was good. I don’t have any grudges,” he said.

Complimentary tickets to return to any of the other scheduled Melbourne performances were offered to the audience.

The Life, Flying Fire-Breathing Dragons

Dreamworks has pushed the boundaries, and the dragons are the proofs. Before the technical difficulties happened, the dragons were eating, walking, flying, and breathing fire. The casts have performed new tricks that will soon be adapted by thousands of other shows around the world.

A combination of life performances, digital imaging, sound, and lighting, the show would be total success if all was running smoothly.

The show started with the narrator bringing all the audience back to the era of the Vikings, where flash photography and live recording would anger the dragons, and mobile reception would not be available for at least 1000 years later. All people were seated comfortably in their seats, feeling enthusiastic while seeing the crescent-moon Dreamworks logo put up on the screen.

When the first dragon showed up, all cheered.

Each of the dragons were remarkable. The scales, the size, and the colours were shown in an extensive amount of details. The Night Fury, the Monstrous Nightmare, the Gronckle, The Green Death, and the Deadly Nadder, among others, were present.

Children began to stand against the rails, amazed and excited to see their favourite mythical creatures right in front of their eyes.

And the dragons blinked. They did.

When the dragons left the stage, the audience clapped.

One of the most remarkable scenes was when the Vikings tried to educate the new recruits about the dragons. Utilising a very big screen, paper shape ornaments, and lighting, the crew was able to twist the story with the forgotten story-telling technique.

The first flying scene of Toothless and Hiccup was also spectacular to watch.

As one of the other 7,000 audience to watch the world premiere How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular, the show has surpassed all my expectations. I would love to watch the show during its prime time, but seeing a glance of the promised land was satisfying enough.

It is indeed hard to train your dragon, but at least they are ambitious enough to try.

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photos by Marcella Purnama

How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular is an epic arena adventure inspired by the Academy Award® nominated DreamWorks Animation film, How To Train Your Dragon which grossed approximately $500 million at the worldwide box office and was among the best-reviewed movies of 2010. The show is on their way to a five-year-tour around the world, with the near future shows include the dragons going life in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland. For more information about the event, please consult Ticketek website, or the show’s official Facebook page.

Saturday’s story: On the other side

On the other side
by unknown

A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was leaving the room after paying a visit, and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.” Very quietly the doctor said, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know?” the man said.

“You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?”

The doctor was holding the handle of the door, on the other side of which came a sound of scratching and whining. As he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.”

“I know little of what is on the other side of death,” the doctor continued, “but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. And when the door opens, I shall pass through with no fear, but with gladness.”


New Year’s Eve (2011)

mp’s rating: 3/5

Not the best chick flick, but quite good to see so many pretty and handsome faces in one movie.

It’s your usual ten-stories-in-one movie. If you have watched Love Actually (about Christmas), and Valentine’s Day (about Valentine’s day), consider this one as the last piece of the trilogy: New Year’s Eve (about New Year).

Story one: a couple whose guy runs away and begs for a second chance.
Story two: a Times Square’s operator whose relationship with her dad was in a brink of vanishing.
Story three: a desperate woman in her late 30s who hates everything about herself, decides to take a leap, and actually does her New Year’s resolutions.
Story four: a rich young man, whose charmed by a mysterious woman he met a year ago
Story five: a single mom and her teenage daughter, whose relationship is not a bed of flowers.
Story five: a backstage singer stuck in a lift with an anti-New-Year celebration.
Story six: a couple whose waiting for their baby to arrive.

You could have guessed the storyline by now. And here are my humble opinions:
1. Times Square is not as good as it looks like on TV (I just visited Times Square in December). In real life, it was dirtier, more chaotic, darker, and definitely not that charming. Hmm…
2. Zac Efron was so hot. Remember him in High School Musical? Well, that guy’s gone. So welcome the adult version of him!
3. Hillary Swank’s speech was a top one (attached below).
4. Josh Duhamel is (always) hot.
5. Michelle Pfeiffer is a good actress!

Well, it was quite a good chick flick. Entertaining, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Some of the stories are “forced” to fit in, but yeah, it had quite a good morale.


Claire: It’s suspended there to remind us before we pop the champagne and celebrate the New Year, to stop and reflect on the year that has gone by. To remember both our triumphs and our missteps – our promises made, and broken. The times we opened ourselves up to great adventures – or closed ourselves down, for fear of getting hurt. Because that’s what New Year’s is all about: getting another chance. A chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more. And stop worrying about ‘what if’ and start embracing what would be. So when that ball drops at midnight – and it will drop – let’s remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other. And not just tonight but all year long.

Claire: Remember, second chances don’t expire until midnight.

student died for his girlfriend

Life updated: I’m so not (not) excited about uni…

Rants on Sunday night, Feb 26th.

Let me guess, I bet most of you who are reading this are students who don’t want to go to your 9am lecture tomorrow morning. Or you are the ones who are keen to go to your 10am tutes tomorrow and trying to persuade me to be excited about uni. Or you are just bored, and reading about someone ranting about her ‘miserable’ life would make your life looks better. Whatever it is, I am so (not) excited about uni.

Not only that my lecture tomorrow starts at 8 (yes, 8am. I’m hardly awake at 8am in the morning, let alone listening to a two-hour lecture… It’s horror…), have I mentioned that my class starts tomorrow?

Well, when you are a third year student, those first-year excitements are gone, replaced by one single thought: assignment, assignment, assignment. And oh, one more: exam.

It’s 7.40pm and I better make myself some Indomie.

Be right back…

Okay, where was I? Indomie. It is one of my favourite food. Oh yes, it is not too healthy, but indulgence once in a while is quite important, right? This is my way to make myself feel happy (while watching Indiana Jones series).

Oh, the Indomie is so good it’s calling my name already.

Be right back…

Okay, I have eaten two packs of Indomie with two eggs, and I’m still hungry. This is bad.

Hungry, bored, tired, un-excited, hungry, hungry hungry, tired, and… un-excited.

I’d really, really like to eat more, sleep more, watch more movies, have more holidays, and … I don’t know, anything but uni?

Rants on Monday afternoon, Feb 27th

Okay, so I’ve survived my first day of uni. Amazingly, I did wake up for that 8am class, and to be honest it was not too bad (it was worse) to be waking up before the sun does. And it was not too bad (it was way worse) to be waking up in cold because for once, the weather forecast was right: it was raining, stormy, and is going to be raining for the whole day.

But on the other hand, my two lectures and one tutorial turned out to be quite good. I spent my life in Redmond Berry Building today (the psychology building), and do you know what my lecturer said on the first lecture of the semester? “Now, you are in a competitive professional world. Some of you may come crying to me at the end of the year because you are not accepted into Honours.”


That is a little bit depressing, don’t you think?

And you know, all of the students enrolled in my tutorial said that they want to do Honours.


Okay, maybe except one, who said that she’s still not sure.


Competing with 800 students to get a spot among those 70 might not look like a good idea afterall.

But now, I’m at that point where I really, really, really want to get into Honours.

And to be honest it’s slightly impossible (I’m a 75 average student, and the benchmark is 80 average student. …….sigh.)

Time to work harder this year, I guess?

I just hope that my best is enough. And with a lot of luck, I might post another rant about my horrible thesis next year.

The Real Rants

So, enough about uni, here’s my other life.

I have read this article a couple of weeks back, and in the spirit of halfway through White Day (and two weeks after the Valentine’s Day), here it goes:

I know, this is too sad; it’s too good to be true, right? If I’m the girl, I would probably weep for another good ten years, begging to God to give him back to me. I would sing the song “Tonight” everyday, and probably be blaming myself for another good life, feeling guilty, thinking that if only I skipped the lecture to have lunch with him, he wouldn’t have been killed.

I know he proved that he really did love me, but he paid quite a high price. If I were her, I would probably trade anything for another day with him.

Sad thoughts aside, for those of you who don’t believe in love, here’s a gently reminder: it does exist. Someday you will meet someone who will love you like he does, protecting you even though it might cost him his life. And I’m sure, you’ll do the same to him. It may be true that dying with a purpose is better than living without one. So there you go.

Happy Thursday people, have a good weekend ahead!